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Historic MOU sets path to return pulp mill site to Tla’amin Nation

The Tla’amin Nation has big plans to rehabilitate their historic village site in Powell River, after signing an agreement today to take back control.

This morning hegus  John Hackett and nation elders met with Premier David Eby and federal Minister of Indigenous Relations Murray Rankin to sign a memorandum of understanding about the mill site, known as tiskwat. The site was taken from the nation prior to the construction of the pulp and paper mill, Western Canada’s first, in 1912.

Hackett says today’s MOU rights an historic wrong and sets the path forward.

“We believe, truly, that local ownership at tiskwat just makes sense,” he said during this morning’s announcement. “Why? Because we have always been here, and we always will be here. We will always be accountable to this place, our ancestors, our future generations, and our neighbours.”

Premier David Eby said the MOU represents a new way of looking at reconciliation with First Nations.

“The commitment is part of our provincial government’s recognition that the old way of doing things — endless court battles, division, short-term transactions — is not the way to move forward to our province,” he said. “By addressing issues like the theft of the village site, it will help us move forward.”

Eby says the new deal benefits the entire region.

“It won’t just improve things for Tla’amin First Nation, in terms of culture, economic opportunity, and justice after so many years,” he said. “It will lift the boats of everybody in the Powell River community. The whole broader community is going to benefit from this important work.”

The nation is planning to use the site for producing value-added wood products, clean energy, and land-based farmed salmon and is already in talks with several businesses.

Related: Tla’amin and Canadian governments agree to negotiations over Powell River mill site

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